Thursday, 30 August 2012
I made this yummy sheet cake for Papa Bear to share with his workmates. It went down a storm - which is just as well, since they were eating it in a storm! It has poured with rain these last 2 days and been very cold and windy - real autumn weather. Papa Bear and his workmates really enjoyed their rich chocolatey treat with mugs of hot tea - so much so that one of them even asked for the recipe - so that he could give it to his wife! It really cheered them up, he said, and it kept them going all morning until their dinner break!
This recipe actually comes from the Copykat.com's "Dining Out At Home" cookbook that Papa Bear bought me for my birthday last year - but it's also online, so I can share it here. Now that picture up there may look like just an ordinary sheet cake, but be assured, it is not. It is extremely rich, moist, chocolately and has a lovely feather-light, melting texture that makes it almost like a pudding, rather than a cake. The frosting is just the right amount to add a little extra deliciousness without making the cake seem over-sweet, and it is really a lovely treat. The recipe makes for a large cake - even by Bear Family standards, so it is ideal for sharing with workmates or taking to a potluck or social. If you are making it to carry out, you could bake it in a disposable foil roasting tin (which is the same dimensions as the 9 x 13 inch pan recommended) or do as I do whenever I make it, and frost it, cut it into slices and then place it in the roasting tin, which makes it easy to transport and serve (and also means I can reserve a few slices for the cubs and for Papa Bear to have later, when he is at home!). It's delicious and yummy, and very rich and indulgent - perfect for these first cool days of autumn when suddenly cold salads and ice cream seem a little less appealing than they have done.
Here is what you do ...
You will need:-
For The Cake ...
1/2 cup butter
1 cup Coca-Cola
1 square (1 ounce) dark (semisweet) chocolate
3/4 cup miniature marshmallows (I used regular ones and cut them into pieces - keep a mug of hot water beside you as you do this, to dip the scissors into between cuts!)
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sugar (I split and use 1 cup white and 1 cup dark brown)
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fpr The Frosting ...
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate syrup (I use ice cream topping)
1/4 cup Coca-Cola
3 cups powdered sugar
1. Start by pre-heating the oven to 350 degrees F and preparing a 9 x 13 inch pan.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup Coca-Cola, and the dark chocolate. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat. Add the marshmallows and stir around until everything is melted and well combined. Set aside to cool (if it is a really hot day, you may want to do this stage a little more in advance).
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the shortening, vegetable oil, 2 teaspoons vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy (obviously if you choose to do as I do and substitute dark brown sugar for some of the white, it won't be that light in colour).
4. Add the eggs and buttermilk, and beat until smooth.
5. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add half the flour to the wet ingredients, and mix well (I do this with a hand-held electric beater. You will have a lot of batter - so run the beater on slow, or you will get very messy! Fortunately, remembering past experiences, this time around I remembered to wear an apron!).
6. Add the cooled Coca-Cola mixture to the flour mixture, then add the rest of the flour and beat again. Keep going until the mixture is completely smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl now and then. This may take a few minutes. The batter will be thick.
7. Turn batter into prepared pan and smooth the surface. Place in the oven on the top shelf and bake for about 35 - 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. This cake always takes well over this time for me - about 55 minutes in a fan-assisted oven, so do keep checking. You may need to cover the top of the cake (I do) to stop it from browning too much.
8. Remove from oven and turn out onto a wire rack to cool. I fing that as it is so tender, the cake sometimes crumbles a little when I turn it out. I weld it neatly back together when I frost it and no one ever notices!
9. To make the frosting, cream the 1/2 cup butter until light and fluffy, then add the 1/2 cup cocoa powder, vanilla, syrup and Coca-Cola and beat until smooth. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, beating constantly. Adjust the consistency with more powdered sugar or Coca-Cola to ensure it is the right thickness.
10. Frost the cake using a pallette knife to smooth over the surface and sides. As I am quite petite, I find a pallette knife too large and awkward to handle neatly. Instead I use a regular flatware knife, and smooth the frosting onto the cake as if I am buttering a slice of bread. I find I get a much neater, more professional finish if I do it this way. It may take a little longer, but I think the extra time is worth it.
We don't have Cracker Barrel restaurants in England. The nearest thing to Cracker Barrel that we have is Brewer's Fayre, and the food there is very similar to the Cracker Barrel menus I have seen. But we hardly ever eat out - Papa Bear thinks my home cooking beats any restaurant meal - what a compliment!
I have a whole list of Gooseberry Patch recipes to try now - so there will be lots more foodie posts coming up this autumn - I hope you'll enjoy them as much as we do!